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David Bernard (Orchestra Conductor)

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Title: David Bernard (Orchestra Conductor)  
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Subject: Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
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David Bernard (Orchestra Conductor)

This article is about the American orchestra conductor. For others with the same or similar name, see David Bernard (disambiguation).

Winner of The American Prize in Orchestral Performance, 2011, David Bernard's conducting is described by critics as bringing “clarity and a sense of spontaneity“ to “polished, stellar and riveting performances”.


To date Bernard has performed in more than twenty countries on four continents. His performances have been featured on radio stations WQXR and WNYC, and on television station WCBS. He has been featured in Symphony Magazine,, The Juilliard Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, and The New York Times.

Bernard is music director of the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, a post he has held since 1999. He has previously served as music director of the Stony Brook University Orchestra, the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company of Long Island and Theater Three, and was assistant conductor of both the Stamford Symphony (CT) and the Jacksonville Symphony (FL).

Bernard regularly leads performances at major concert venues in New York City, including Avery Fisher Hall, Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall. Recent notable performances include Beethoven Symphony No. 3 & Brahms Symphony No. 4 at Carnegie Hall, Dvorak Symphony No. 7 & Beethoven Symphony No. 8 at Avery Fisher Hall, Brahms Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, Bizet Symphony in C & Beethoven Symphony No. 5 at Alice Tully Hall and Beethoven Symphony No. 9 at Riverside Church. His acclaimed appearances with the Stony Brook Symphony include performances of Schumann Symphony No. 1, Shostakovich Symphony No. 6, and a rare performance of Ives Symphony No. 4 where he led the orchestra in partnership with Arthur Weisberg, the noted conductor of 20th century music.


Maestro Bernard's recent performances with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony have inspired significant critical acclaim:

Beethoven Symphony No. 8 "The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s performance of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony was captivating throughout; the clarity of rhythm and the musical conviction of the players were superb in what was a sparkling account. Music Director and Conductor David Bernard made the most of Beethoven’s melodic material by emphasizing the shape of the musical line. All dynamics were presented with great contrast, but Bernard also brought out the nuanced, Haydnesque elements in the music: the humor, the grace, the lightness of touch in the orchestration, and he emphasized the Viennese dance music that permeates the score." -Holly Nelson, New York Concert Review

Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 “The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony scored a triumph…David Bernard, the Chamber Symphony’s Music Director, led both pieces from memory, with clarity and a sense of spontaneity…the orchestra played with a strong sense of style and commitment…under the guidance of Mr. Bernard [the orchestra played] with the depth and fervor of the old school European orchestras." -David LaMarche, New York Concert Review

Vivaldi "The Four Seasons" Vivaldi Gloria "..A riveting and stellar performance on all fronts. Music Director David Bernard, who led the performance while playing the harpsichord, did an excellent job of maintaining solid ensemble-playing and consistently driven tempos in what was a crisply articulate, high-energy account…a memorable performance…Bernard conducted the Gloria from memory and with an astute ear for phrasing and color." -Anthony Aibel, New York Concert Review

Beethoven Symphony No. 6 Copland Appalachian Spring Suite "David Bernard conducted the entire program—including the concerto and a difficult Copland work—without a score. Beethoven’s sixth symphony sounded terrific and was polished to excellence. Copland’s notoriously difficult “Appalachian Spring” Suite was played very well. The opening A’s were unusually and nicely poised, the closing chorale section was phrased beautifully, and the last three glockenspiel and harp notes were perfect." -Anthony Aibel, New York Concert Review

Bizet Symphony in C Debussy Nocturnes Gershwin "An American in Paris" "The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony played [Bizet’s Symphony in C] marvelously well; David Bernard’s tempo choices were fittingly musical—the last movement Allegro vivace, for example, wasn’t hurried or flashed for effect, but played so details could be heard. This was indeed a polished performance. In Debussy’s Nocturnes the dreamy mood in Nuages (clouds) was captured exquisitely. Gershwin’s An American in Paris was very solid and evocative. Bernard added some nice touches, like a longer-than-usual bassoon grace note at the beginning of one of the slower parts. Bernard conducted the entire program from memory, the orchestra was confident and musical, technically impressive and extremely well-prepared." -Anthony Aibel, New York Concert Review

Beethoven Symphony No. 5 "The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony’s talented Music Director, David Bernard, led a performance of Beethoven’s 5 with excellent precision of ensemble. I really liked Bernard’s emphasis of the first movement’s famous four-note motive when it appears in the horns. The last movement Allegro was faster than usual—it was refreshing to hear. -Anthony Aibel, New York Concert Review

Strauss "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 "A charming, well-prepared performance….Bernard chose a stylistically well- balanced program, one that presented music from three different centuries. The performance of Shostakovich’s challenging Fifth Symphony was very impressive." -Anthony Aibel, New York Concert Review

Bernard's discography includes 17 albums released on, iTunes, Napster and Rhapsody spanning music from Vivaldi through Copland.

A pianist and harpsichord/continuo player, Bernard often leads baroque works from the keyboard and also appears in performance in the dual role of soloist and conductor. He has prepared a new edition of Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 1, has written a Music Theory textbook, "The Structural Principles of Music" and lectures on musicology, music history and musicianship, most recently "Musicianship in Performance", an exploration of the decisions musicians make when creating performances.

Bernard has conducted world premières of works by Bruce Adolphe, Chris Caswell, John Mackey and Ted Rosenthal and has collaborated with notable artists, including Carter Brey, David Chan, Catherine Cho, Pedro Diaz, Bart Feller, Whoopi Goldberg, Judith Ingolfsson, Christina Jennings, Jessica Lee, Soyeon Lee, Jon Manasse, Todd Phillips and James Archie Worley.


Bernard has demonstrated a deep commitment to elementary and secondary school music education, developing new talent and providing solo performance experience to young artists. His leadership in fundraising for music education programs has bolstered outreach programs, community music schools and conservatory preparatory programs—most notably the Harmony Program (a New York City program modeled after Venezuela's "El Sistema"), the Lucy Moses School and establishing the Parent’s Association Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Juilliard School Pre-College Division.

Bernard is an alumnus of The Juilliard School, The Curtis Institute of Music, Stony Brook University, the Tanglewood Music Center and Saratoga Performing Arts Center and studied with Sergiu Celibidache, David Lawton, Roger Nierenberg and Arthur Weisberg.

External links

  • Maestro Bernard's Website: Maestro Bernard
  • Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
  • Naxos Records
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Music Director, Park Avenue Chamber Symphony
Succeeded by
Preceded by
James V. Minnena
Music Director, Lawyers' Orchestra
Succeeded by
Orchestra dissolved 2008
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